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A New Clinton, Going Door to Door in Nevada, Asks for Help

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Kris Conover
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« on: January 10, 2008, 10:26:39 pm »

A New Clinton, Going Door to Door in Nevada, Asks for Help
 Richard Perry/The New York Times
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton walked a neighborhood in Las Vegas on Thursday, talking with people and visiting some homes.


By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Published: January 11, 2008
LAS VEGAS — The all-new, listening and accessible Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took her message literally door to door on Thursday night in a heavily Hispanic working-class neighborhood near downtown Las Vegas, where she knocked on doors with campaign workers, urging voters to caucus for her in the coming Democratic contest.



Richard Perry/The New York Times
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, her daughter, Chelsea, and Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen visited the home of Gilberto Santana, left, and his daughter, Xltia, Thursday night in a Hispanic area of Las Vegas.
As moments go, the walk down the street of small lots and tidy houses was about as spontaneous as a 500-guest wedding — people along the block were told that she would be coming to the Clinton-friendly neighborhood and live-news trucks outnumbered onlookers in the street.

But many residents still seemed thrilled to see Mrs. Clinton, as she expressed admiration for their homes and introduced small children to her daughter, Chelsea, who walked without trouble in stiletto heels. “I need your help,” Mrs. Clinton said to one family, tapping on her heart with a closed hand.

Ray Kincaid seemed mildly shocked to be standing talking to a hoarse Mrs. Clinton in his neighbor’s yard. “We’re going to do everything we can to get a president who cares about the middle class,” she told him.

“Cool, I appreciate that,” said Mr. Kincaid, who is 20 and not yet registered to vote.

A campaign worker pressed a caucus commitment form in his hand. “Uh, can I get a picture first?” Mr. Kincaid said.

Later, Mrs. Clinton repaired to a nearby Mexican restaurant, where she sat at a large round table and talked with local residents over chips and salsa about the housing foreclosure crisis, which has hit Nevada worse than anywhere in the nation. Mrs. Clinton said she would like to freeze interest rates for five years, and create a federal program that would help homeowners get “through a bad time,” to prevent foreclosures. Mrs. Clinton also said she believed “we’re slipping into a recession.”

Both events, clearly intended to tap into Clark County’s large Hispanic population, stood in stark contrast to Mrs. Clinton’s last visit to Nevada, when she gave a stump speech from a stage far from her supporters in a nature preserve, then departed majestically whence she came.

Mrs. Clinton came to Nevada, which holds its first major Democratic caucus on Jan. 19, with the help of local Democratic support, and a one-day jump on her opponent Senator Barack Obama, who arrives Friday to begin campaigning here. The neighborhood where she went seeking votes is in the Assembly district of Ruben Kihuen, a local kingmaker among Democrats.

Although polls in Nevada are notoriously unreliable, and none have been conducted here in weeks, Mrs. Clinton held a double-digit lead over Mr. Obama in the fall, though even her supporters believe that has eroded since she lost the Iowa caucuses to him before winning in New Hampshire five days later.

Mrs. Clinton’s team is hoping that her new campaign style — appealing more directly to voters — will help her in Nevada, which for years was all but ignored by federal candidates.

“I’m very committed to reaching out and meeting the people in this state,” Mrs. Clinton said. When asked about her teary-eyed moment in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton referred to having “that connection and that empathy” that might appeal to voters.

But Mr. Obama has his own newfound advantages here. On Wednesday, he collected the much-coveted endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union, with its 60,000 members who are expected to convey voters to caucus sites while educating a much-confused population here about how exactly the caucuses will work.

Mr. Obama has also gotten the nod from the local Service Employees International Union, a politically potent union that represents more than 17,500 people throughout the state.

Mr. Obama also released a new advertisement on Thursday in the Las Vegas and Reno markets that highlights his remarks at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner speech in Des Moines this month. Further, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who endorsed Mr. Obama on Thursday, called a few influential local reporters to try to diminish Mrs. Clinton’s impact on the day of her arrival here.

But Mrs. Clinton tried to capitalize on being first to arrive at this new Democratic battleground. She received a warm reception at the packed Mexican restaurant, where supporters had to be turned away.

The crowd broke out into “Hillary, Hillary!” especially in response to lines like this: “All of our problems are interconnected, but we treat them as if one were guacamole and one were chips.”

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